Welcome to the dog days of summer where the weather is hot, hotter, and hottest. You might worry more about keeping your chickens warm in the winter, but the hot summer weather can be just as hard on chickens, and sometimes even worse than the cold.
Recognize Signs of Heatstroke in Chickens
If you notice your chickens panting or spreading their wings during hot weather, don’t panic. Like dogs, chickens pant to keep cool as neither have sweat glands. Chickens will also spread out their wings to cool off.
However, if you notice your chickens acting lifeless, lethargic, or their combs start to discolor, you will want to cool them off as soon as you can.
Cool them off by putting them in cool water, but don’t submerge their heads. Then, keep them in a cooler spot until they are completely recovered and running around as normal.
Heat Hardy Chickens
Some chickens are better suited to hot environments. Because chickens regulate their temperature through their wattles and combs, chickens with larger wattles and combs are better suited to heat. This is the reverse of cold hardy chickens – chickens with smaller wattles and combs are better able to avoid frost bite.
If you live in a hot area, you might consider getting these breeds that are pretty well suited to heat:
- Easter Eggers
- Barred Plymouth Rocks
- Rhode Island Reds
- New Hampshire Reds
- White Leghorn
There are also several things you can do to help your chickens stay cool in hot weather. Most of them are simple changes. Here are a few of our favorite ways to help our chickens manage during the horrible summer heat.
More Ways to Help Chickens Stay Cool in the Summer
- Make sure they have plenty of access to fresh, cold water. I like to have lots of different water options available for my chickens – from normal chicken waterers to buckets, to shallow dishes. I’ve even seen some people put out round plastic sleds with a little bit of water for chickens to wade through! Chickens can’t swim, but they can stand in a little bit of water.
- Feed them cooling treats like melon, extra squash from your garden, or even make them a frozen treat of berries and herbs in ice. Chickens love these great treats during the summer heat.
- Make sure your chickens have access to shade. Like most living creatures, chickens need to be able to get out of the sun, so if they’re in a very sunny area, make sure to hang sunshades or provide them some place to go to get cooler shade.
- Don’t forget about dust bathing! Dust bathing is very important part of chicken hygiene, and they might double down on dust bathing in hot water as it is another way they keep cool.
- Feeding chickens during the early morning or later at night is a good idea during hot weather too. Feeding them during the hottest weather in the middle of the day is harder on them, so if you’re used to feeding in the middle of day, alter this schedule when the weather is particularly hot.
- Finally, don’t forget about coop ventilation. It’s very important that your chickens have a well-ventilated coop, especially during hot weather. If you have fans, you might want to run them during the hottest weather. There are even a few options for solar fans if you don’t have electricity out to your chicken coop.
There are a few of our favorite ways to help chickens during the hot summer months. What’s your favorite way to keep your chickens cool during the summer?